Strategic Habitat Plan Annual Report - 2006
Tags: WLCI Agency Report
One of the greatest challenges facing the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) in the 21st century will be our ability to maintain sustainable fish and wildlife populations and meet the expectations and desire of our citizens. This challenge can be met by addressing habitat needs and issues that seek to maintain open spaces, non-fragmented quality habitats and the ability of fish and wildlife to utilize these areas. Many areas of the state are imperiled or at-risk. Potential impacts to fish and wildlife are expanding, with some of the most noticeable being energy development, increasing demands for water, other land uses, and urban sprawl. The long-term drought, fire suppression and conflicts in public expectations have caused impacts as well. At the same time, we are being asked to take a far more active role in the conservation of all wildlife species, including many considered to be at-risk. Conserving them one species at a time is impractical over the long-term. To effectively answer these challenges, the Department is actively pursuing habitat-related management decisions at a landscape level with public land managers and private landowners on lands throughout Wyoming. In recognition of this need, The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission (WGFC) adopted a Strategic Habitat Plan (SHP) in 2001. This SHP and priorities habitat areas can be viewed on the WGFD website at http://gf.state.wy.us/habitat/StrategicPlan/index.asp. The plan’s three primary goals are:
1. Manage, preserve and restore habitat for long-term sustainable management of wildlife populations.
2. Increase wildlife based recreation through habitat enhancements that increase productivity of wildlife.
3. Increase or maintain wildlife habitat and associated recreation on Wyoming Game and Fish Commission owned and managed lands.
This is a report of the activities and strategies we implemented this past year to address the goals of the SHP. It is of paramount importance that habitat conservation in Wyoming be extended to the landscape/watershed level, working cooperatively across organizational lines within and outside the Department, and across political and legal boundaries on the ground. This requires a great deal of teamwork and a broader view of our responsibilities. The report includes a compilation of funding sources, expenditures and a summary of on-the- ground activities accomplished during 2006.
In addition, several statewide programs related to the Strategic Habitat Plan are included in this years analysis. These programs involved technical assistance and education regarding fish and wildlife habitat condition and health relative to livestock and/or big game grazing via workshops for private landowners and managers. Also included are programs for sagebrush management including land cover information derived from remote sensing satellite imagery, riparian, aspen and tall forb community management, development and refinement of a geographic information system (GIS) decision support system and GIS cumulative impact analysis system for the WGFD, in-stream flow habitat protection, and a statewide aquatic wildlife GIS database development. Using funds received from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Landowner Incentive Program, the Department is working with private landowners to implement on-the-ground projects on prairie stream systems, cutthroat trout streams, and grassland and sagebrush habitat for sensitive fish and wildlife species on private lands. These efforts are designed to enhance sensitive wildlife species populations and distribution and to negate the need for potential listing under the Endangered Species Act administered by the USFWS. The Water Management Section is actively involved in water management efforts and evaluation of in-stream flows to protect and enhance aquatic wildlife resources.